The Netherlands has a reputation for being progressive, from the environment to social initiatives. About twice the size of New Jersey, a large proportion of its landmass is below sea level. Protected (at least for the moment) by an elaborate system of dikes, the country is a center of creativity, efficiency, and diversity. It’s a place that is open-minded and broad thinking on everything from social programs to wind energy. A recent trip to Amsterdam also unveiled it is equally creative with its approach to waste management and water reclamation.
Waste management in the Netherlands is tricky. With limited land area available to landfill, conventional waste is either incinerated to produce energy or exported elsewhere for disposal. In the way of waste-to-energy (W2E), Amsterdam has created an incredibly efficient Afval Energie Bedrijf (AEB) plant capable of producing 1 million MWh of electricity annually. Beyond the energy factor, the plant is also being used to create district heating for several communities around Amsterdam, and produces 300,000 gigajoules of heat annually.